What is Hydrosalpinx (Fallopian Tube Blockage)?

When fluid builds up in one or both fallopian tubes, it causes hydrosalpinx, which results in a blockage. Your uterus and ovaries are connected by fallopian tubes. Your ovaries release an egg each month as part of your menstrual cycle, and the egg travels through your fallopian tubes. An open channel is provided by healthy fallopian tubes for the union of an egg and a sperm (fertilisation).

The fertilised egg or embryo passes through the same clear channel to reach your uterus. An embryo can then implant in your uterine wall and grow into a foetus from there. Fluid accumulation obstructs this route in a hydrosalpinx. Sperm may not be able to reach your egg if your fallopian tube is blocked. If fertilisation does take place, the fallopian tube obstruction may stop the embryo from implanting in your uterus. Also, if the embryo reaches to uterine cavity the fluid may harm the embryo leading to implantation failure.

What are the signs and symptoms of a hydrosalpinx?

Rarely does a hydrosalpinx show any symptoms. When your doctor looks into why getting pregnant is challenging, you might not discover your tubes are blocked. When symptoms exist, they consist of the following:

  • Pelvic pain that could get worse during or right after your menstruation.
  • Sticky or stained vaginal discharge.

What causes a hydrosalpinx?

The most frequent cause of a hydrosalpinx is an untreated infection. Your fallopian tubes might become irritated and damaged by harmful germs. Your fallopian tube’s fimbriae, which are located close to your ovaries, are frequently irritated. Your fallopian tubes’ fimbriae are finger-like extensions that sweep an egg out of your ovaries.

Your fimbriae may fuse together during the healing process, closing your fallopian tubes. Your tubes expand as a result of fluid becoming trapped inside of them. Causes of hydrosalpinx include:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STIs), such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea, that have previously gone untreated.
  • Endometriosis-related tissue growth.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), frequently brought on by untreated STIs.
  • Scar tissue that remains after pelvic surgery, particularly after the fallopian tubes were operated on.
  • Certain tumours.

How does hydrosalpinx affect your body?

It might be challenging to get pregnant and raise your risk of miscarriage and pregnancy issues if you have an untreated hydrosalpinx. In addition to making it challenging to conceive through sexual activity, a hydrosalpinx can:

  • Reduce your likelihood of conceiving via in vitro fertilisation (IVF): You can conceive via IVF even without fallopian tubes. With IVF, your doctor removes your eggs from your body and fertilises them with sperm from your partner or a donor outside of you. Your medical professional will then insert the embryo into your uterus, where it can grow. Once the embryo implants into your uterine wall, a hydrosalpinx may cause issues. According to research, the fluid from a hydrosalpinx can flow backwards into your uterus, creating an unfavourable environment for embryonic development.
  • Increase your risk of ectopic pregnancy: An ectopic pregnancy can occur when an embryo implants in your fallopian tubes after being unable to reach your uterus due to a blockage. Without treatment, these pregnancies can be fatal and are not viable. 

What tests will be done to diagnose a blocked fallopian tube?

Tests to determine whether your fallopian tubes are blocked include:

  • Ultrasound: On an ultrasound, your fallopian tubes are typically invisible. However, they will appear as such if they are enlarged due to fluid buildup. They can occasionally have a sausage-like form. To ensure that a hydrosalpinx is indeed the source of the alteration, your doctor may request more tests.
  • Laparoscopy: A minimally invasive procedure called laparoscopy enables your doctor to examine your abdominal cavity. To get a better look at your fallopian tubes, they create very small slits in your belly and insert a laparoscope, a small camera. Sometimes, a catheter will be inserted into your cervix and vagina to inject dye into your uterus and fallopian tubes to look for obstructions. A laparoscopy can be utilised to validate the HSG’s findings.
  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): A fallopian tube obstruction test using X-ray dye is called an HSG. It is the most typical test for identifying hydrosalpinx. Your doctor will put a dyeing medium within your uterus and use an X-ray to observe how it moves. Your tubes are open if the dye leaks through them and into your pelvic area. Your tubes are obstructed if the dye abruptly ceases.

How is hydrosalpinx treated?

You can increase your chances of getting pregnant by treating a hydrosalpinx. Various variables, including your age and the degree of your obstruction, will affect how you are treated. If you have an illness that is still active, your doctor will recommend medications to treat it. Surgical procedures consist of:

  • Salpingectomy: removes either one fallopian tube or both (bilateral salpingectomy).
  • Clipping of tubes: To stop the backlog of fluid in the uterine cavity, tubes are clipped with the help of laparoscopy. 

What happens if hydrosalpinx is left untreated?

Your chances of getting pregnant are reduced if you have hydrosalpinx, and your risk of miscarriage and problems like ectopic pregnancy is increased. You have a far better chance of having a safe pregnancy if you receive treatment.